Thursday, December 27, 2007

And now for something a little different....

While it is true that I make most of my (limited) income as an actor, I also make an occasional penny now and then by writing. And while visiting my grandmother for Christmas, I saw the following article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, titled "Classics on a Diet." It discusses the recent "abridged" classic editions publishing by Phoenix Press. Go check it out, and then come back to Script in Hand.

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/magazine/20071225_Essay.html

As a writer, performer, and English major, the whole idea behind these editions seems completely misguided. It reduces everything to the "narrative line," while eliminating everything that makes the books truly unique and special. A story about a whale hunt is just that, but Melville gives "Moby-Dick" (one of the books in this list) so much more than just a narrative line, and that is what makes it a truly epic masterpiece. In a very American urge to reduce books to the size that can be read during a commercial break, these editions are designed, I can only imagine, for people who want to say that they have read the book, but people who don't actually want to be bothered to actually read the entire book.

This does come around to my primary career, however, because I feel the same way about the cutting I just did of "Romeo and Juliet." The script was cut down very appropriately for school students, but it wasn't exactly the best cut for us actors to work on. Like Phoenix Press, it kept the entire flow of the plot and the "narrative line," but it took out a lot of the poetry, subtle nuance, and reflection that make Shakespeare's play so much more than just a teenage love story. I didn't feel that way when I did "Othello" or "Much Ado About Nothing." Either the poetry in those shows is more central to the plot, or perhaps the cuts were more sensitive to those issues. I'm excited to have a full script for my next show!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Treat at Christmastime

Last Saturday night, I attended the Workshop Theatre’s production of The Gift of the Magi and The Blue Carbuncle, a Christmas-themed pairing of one-act plays. The evening began with a series of Christmas carols sung by the company, from sincere to hilarious. After the singing session, the narrator took us through The Gift of the Magi. While the well-known story lacked any real dramatic tension, the three leading players delivered performances that outshone the predictable plot. The narrator added just the right touch of atmosphere and honesty to the play, although the act ended on an upbeat and optimistic note that I don’t recall from the O Henry short story. As a big fan of Sherlock Holmes, I was really hoping to enjoy the Holmes play. Unfortunately, the show did not quite live up to my expectations. The adaptation made the story quite clear, but unfortunately lacked any drama or drive. The actor playing Holmes also had a peculiar habit of delivering all his lines facing the audience, never looking any other actor in the eyes. While clearly a choice of either director or performer, it only served to distance Holmes from all the other characters. It also didn’t help the subplot of Watson trying to connect with Holmes, since Holmes refused to connect with anyone. I did like the performance of Dr Watson, however, as I felt he was honest and sincere, and there was nothing affected about his character. I also really liked the interpretation of Mrs. Hudson. The woman playing her was only in her thirties, and I liked the younger dynamic she brought to the role. Mrs. Hudson was not the elderly matron of Baker Street, but a contemporary of Holmes and Watson. She was a fantastic foil to a rather bland Sherlock Holmes. Ultimately, both plays were very cute and very "cuddly," but neither one really delivered dramatically.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

All done!

We finished up the tour a few days ago, and now I'm in Queens visiting a friend before I head home tomorrow for Christmas. This tour has been quite a wild ride. We travelled all across the country, with a final count of 15,850 miles. That's almost 2,000 more miles than I covered on my Cinderella tour, and it's more than any of us had thought. We took bets on our total mileage, and although I came in second with a guess around 12,000, Dennis hit the nail almost on the head with a guess around 15,700 miles. To be that close was incredibly impressive. After our show on Thursday, we drove back up to CT. We loaded all our stuff out at the company warehouse, and then we raced over to the Bridgeport train station to catch the early train back to NYC. We made it with only minutes to spare, and then we separated when we got to Grand Central. I rode the train out to Queens with some friends, and then we all went our separate ways. It's always strange for me to think about the fact that this group of people will probably never be together again. But I always feel that way when I leave shows, and any attempt to bring a cast back together always has an empty and hollow feel to it. Magic occurs when people come together for a brief time, and that magic is not something that one can simply create again.

I'll try to write more about the tour, but I'm glad to be home. It was a pretty long time to be gone, and a long time to be doing the same show for children. It'll be several weeks before I start on Spitfire Grill, which I am really looking forward to. But in the meantime, I need to find some sort of job to make some money. But I'm not so worried about that at the moment, since I'm really excited to spend the holidays with my family, my house, my cat, and my own bed(!) Tonight we're going to see a Sherlock Holmes play in New York, which I'm excited about. And then early on Sunday, I'm going home. The last time I was at home was October 2nd, when I left for CT to start rehearsing Romeo and Juliet. So I'm really excited to go home!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Delaware: Tax-free shopping and Wawa heaven

We drove up to Wilmington, DE today in preparation for our final show tomorrow morning. I'm really excited to be ending this tour. As much as I love the work, this idea of performing every morning for children is starting to wear thin. I have nothing but respect for actors who do touring theatre, but I know that it's not for me. At this point in my career, as well as my life, I'm more interested in working in one town, in the same theatre for several months in a row on the same show. Course, truth be told, I'm really interested in being a film and TV actor. I'm going to be doing Spitfire Grill in Allentown in the end of February, but I also need to go find some actual work to pay the bills. I've managed to save a good deal of money from this tour, but it's not enough for me to live a life of luxury for very long. My parents and friends are coming to see the show tomorrow, and then we have to drive up to CT again to go to the warehouse and unload our set, props, costumes, etc. Then we grab the train back to New York City, and I'm spending the weekend with a friend. We're looking to hit a museum on Friday, and then we're going to see a Sherlock Holmes play on Saturday night. The holiday season then starts for me in full force on Sunday, when I go home for the first time since early October. I'm very excited!

Monday, December 17, 2007

A game of f*ck your buddy, gone horribly horribly wrong

After driving through a storm and gale last night, we got lost on our way into Boston, arriving twenty minutes late for our load-in. Then we learned that we would only be performing for 17 students. We got set up really quickly, but then we were sorta goofing off while we waited for them to arrive, which they did precisely at 10:15 (show time.) We think we gave them a pretty good show, which they really enjoyed. They were very enthusiastic afterwards, asking a lot of questions. But the problem came because we were a little wild today. We were laughing onstage, and I took a few of the nurse's shouts to Juliet while she is on her balcony. It made the actors onstage smile and laugh, and, I'd say, enfused a little joy into the end of the scene. Our company manager, however, did not agree, and was pretty steamed at what we had done. The game "f*ck your buddy" is a well-respected game, one at which I happen to have a great deal of talent and skill. It's something that keeps the shows alive, and often needs to be played on rough days. I was sorry that it "crossed a line" with the work of the show, but I never saw anything wrong with it. It didn't ruin a scene (like laughing onstage), nor did it endanger another actor (like throwing a prop unsafely.) Unneccesary? Yes. Uncalled for? Probably. Unprofessional? No.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Best. Weekend. Ever.

So we're on the road again, after getting the show cancelled last Thursday and then spending the weekend away from each other. Since we were near New York City, most people went back to their homes, friends, and families, and I went down to Allentown to spend the weekend with a good friend and see her in A Christmas Carol. Indeed, I really meant to write some blog entries over the weekend, talking about what we had done on the way to Scranton, about sitting in the parking lot of the hotel trying to figure out what to do, and then the late night drive down to Allentown to drop me off before they all flew farther east to New York City. But it ended up that I was having so much fun over the weekend, I didn't ever want to sit down at my computer; that would have robbed me of so much of the fun! Briefly, I saw a lot of friends (including two from "Big Love), I ate a lot of great food (including a turkey burger at the Bethlehem BrewWorks), and I played a lot of games (including Bang!, Spite & Malice, The Settlers of Catan.) It was also kind of cool to be commuting into the city on Friday to do my show. Even though I had to get up crazy early (4am!), but because I was coming home to the same house after my work was done, it felt like a job. And I always love when acting can feel like a job, because it really makes me feel like a professional.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Blind as a bat

As I rode over to our show this morning, I discovered something rather disappointing. I had lost my contact lenses for the show, so I knew I would have to do the performance nearly-blind. Mercutio can't be wearing 21st century glasses, and I knew the only problem I would have would be the fighting scenes. But we ran it a few times (as always), and the stage lights in the space were excellent, and I didn't have any problems. I tried tracking it down at the last theatre, but they said they didn't find anything when they were working there after us. Maybe it fell out of my pocket in the van. Maybe it's in a pocket I'm forgetting about. Either way, it's only for the last week.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Feeling the Saginaw Spirit

Last night, we were watching the weather closely. They were calling for ice storms throughout the region, so there was the possibility that they might cancel the show. Turns out, the ice passed to the south and the west of Ann Arbor, so we could make it to the show in the morning. We got lost a little bit on the way to the school, but we eventually found our way. And then we almost slid the van and the trailer into a nearby lake when I hit a patch of black ice on the road behind the school. But that balanced out, because we played one of our largest crowds in one of our nicest spaces. There was an acoustic band shell in place on the stage, and we could be heard in the audience with barely a whisper on stage. Then a great Irish pub lunch in Ann Arbor, an all-too-brief visit to an excellent two-story comic and game shop, and then a brief drive a little farther north to Saginaw, Michigan. The town is the home of the Saginaw Spirit, the hockey team supported by Stephen Colbert, and their mascot Steagle Colbeagle the Eagle. We are, however, about half an hour away from our theatre, and we'll have to be on the road early tomorrow morning. Then we have a long-ass drive over to Scranton over the next few days.

But we only have 10 days left.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Ice storms

After the chance to grab some coffee and a sandwich in Chicago, we hit the road so we could reach Ann Arbor, Michigan for our show tomorrow morning. The travel and such went pretty well, even though I later learned that we were going in the wrong direction for about twenty minutes. But the real treat was the solid sheet of ice posing as the parking lot of the Super 8 where we currently sit. We ordered some pizza and subs for our dinner, and now we're just waiting out the weather. There is the slight chance that our performance in the morning will be cancelled due to school closings, and I'm honestly hoping that's the way it goes. This weather is miserable and dangerous, and I don't relish the idea of driving and working in this kind of weather in the early morning hours. I'd much rather enjoy my bitter coffee and stale donuts and sleep in and then drive even further north, even farther into the barren weather, toward another show in Bay City, MI.

Oh, and it's my birthday today. Walking into the hotel, stepping carefully across the snow and ice creating a wasteland, I had this image of ordering some pizza, getting a coke from the vending machine, and then I'd sit on my motel bed wearing a paper party hat, rock slowly back and forth singing happy birthday to me... So this is how 27 starts

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Chicago Symphony Adventure

I already mentioned last night that I went to the symphony last night, and now I'll tell a little bit more about that whole event. I was looking for something to do, and I passed by the Chicago Symphony. As I kept walking back toward the hotel, I turned around and decided to be that guy who goes to the symphony. So I checked it out, and they were offering student tickets for only $15. So I paid my money, got my seat, and listened to a very good program of music. They started with a good piece by Delius, but then played a great Symphony No. 6 by Sibelius. Apparently, Sibelius changed the way in which symphonies were conceived, making them free-flowing and organic as opposed to totally separate movements within the piece.


After the intermission, the next pieces by Webern, entitled "Five Pieces for Orchestra." Using a wide variety of instruments, these pieces were played in only four minutes. Before playing them, however, the conductor explained that a large concert hall wasn't the best venue for the hearing of such pieces, so the orchestra would play them again after the concert was concluded. But this second time, the audience would be invited up onto the platform to sit with the orchestra, side by side with the people and instruments actually making the notes. The final piece, one of the last concertos by Brahms, was played beautifully by the two soloists, and then there was a short break while the stagehands reset for the Webern pieces. Once the audience was settled, the conductor had the musicians demonstrate some of the qualities of their instruments, and then they played the Five Pieces again. Hearing the pieces again was really remarkable, especially as I was sitting only six feet from the woman playing the harp. The first time through, the pieces were interesting in their sparceness. Hearing them all together created a very interesting sound. But that second time, the sound curtain was even more remarkable. Instead of hearing all the sounds overlapping and coming together, I could hear each individual sound coming in and out, playing with the others, and creating more of a aural texture than a sequence of music. This picture to the right represents a sneaked photo of the composer and the orchestra, taking their bow after the second playing. You can see the harp and other instruments in front of me, and the conductor is the grey-haired man in the dark shirt, just over the left shoulder of the woman in front of me. Walking home, I was really happy that I had decided to go get some culture while I was here in Chicago.


More info: visit the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at http://www.cso.org/

My kind of town, Chicago is




This photo represents the view of downtown Chicago from the window of my hotel room in the Travelodge. We had an early show this morning in Wisconsin, and then we drove to Chicago. We got into town around 4pm. And after relaxing in the hotel a little bit, I bundled up in my coat at hit the streets to explore. We are right in the middle of the city, and I could walk to the major shopping district, the theatre district, the Millenium Park near the river, and two different ice skating rinks. After finding something to eat, I grabbed apple cider and fried donuts at a Christkindlmarket, a block-long German street fair. There is also one in Bethlehem, PA, and they sell all kinds of food and drink, hand-crafted ornaments, German games and toys, etc. Those donuts were amazing, so much so that I've now included a picture of them on the blog. The outsides of them were so crispy and golden delicious, but insides were still warm and slightly gooey. The powdered sugar on top set the flavor off perfectly, and the apple cider warmed me just enough to keep me wandering around the city down over toward the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. And since they had student tickets, I sat myself down in the orchestra section and listened to their program for the night. Pretty cool way to get some culture while I'm in Chicago. I'll write more about the pieces later, as well as post a mini photo gallery from my walk around the city. But at the moment, it's pretty late, and I have some orange juice and Dunkin Donuts munchkins waiting for me before bed...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Pretty Cold...

We are in northern Wisconsin tonight, and it's pretty gorram cold! We have an early show tomorrow morning, and we'll be leaving before six o'clock in the morning so we can pack up our van before swinging by a Starbucks for our morning coffee constitutional. This is really the only early morning we have on the road, and the only time that we are going to be out of the hotel before the breakfast has been set up. But the rest of our days are pretty normal. We only have two more weeks after today, and we're spending the weekend in Chicago. Coming from only a three-day work week, the extended weekend seems rather pointless to me. I'd rather we compressed the time into half a week less as opposed to having all these weekends off. It's cool, though, cause I'll get to see friends next weekend in Allentown, as well as hopefully ditch some dirty laundry and no-longer-needed items.

Plus, I'm excited to have friends see my show! It's fun to say that I'm playing Mercutio, but I'm glad they will get a chance to see what I'm doing. Plus, it will make all the stories that much more real when they actually meet the people who are involved.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

No bueno!

[December 5, 2007. 2:26pm est]

Last night, after our visit to the vintage toy store, we went to have some Mexican food at a restaurant in the parking lot of the hotel. While the food was delicious, I was plagued by a stomachache not long after dinner, and I spent most of the night in and out of the bathroom, sick to my stomach. It means I didn’t really get a lot of sleep last night since I was unable to sleep, and I had to do the show this morning very weak and with a sore tummy. At the moment, we are hanging out at a rest stop on the Ohio interstate as we wait for one of our company members to conduct a radio interview over the phone. Then at 3pm, we’ll get back on the road for the rest of our six hour drive to the suburbs of Chicago for our show tomorrow. We’re watching it snow outside, and the next week also promises to be a cold one. We go through Chicago, Wisconsin, and Michigan before coming back to Pennsylvania and New York City, and then we only have a week left!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cleveland rocks

We spent the day today in various places in and around Cleveland proper. We went down to the water on Lake Erie first, running through a crowd of nearly 800 seagulls that had gathered in a local park. As they flew into the air, it was literally a wall of birds that we saw coming down on us. Pretty amazing. From there, we went into the (lobby of) the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum, at which we saw a lot of cool items from various music tours (Phish, U2, Wheezer, Moby.) We rode on the local trolley system, like something out of the not-too-distant future, and then we ended up in Tower City, a semi-large shopping mall area in downtown. We had some lunch, saw some stuff, and then drove back to the hotel.

Three guys went to see a movie, and then Tim and I went to the coolest toy store in the world! Not only did they have new toys for sale, but they had hundreds of the vintage ones. Old Mego action figures, old-fashioned Transformers, vintage GI Joe figures from the 80s, Star Trek, Star Wars, Flash Gordon, Superman, X-Men, Battlestar, The Black Hole, Simpsons, you name it. Tim and I each got a few things, but I'm sure that he'll have trouble fitting all of his into his luggage.

Now we're back at the hotel preparing for our show tomorrow, and I just don't want this vacation period of our tour to end. We only have three work days before another weekend off in Chicago, where I will get to see two friends of mine. And then there are only two more weeks before the tour is over. I'm very glad. I'm getting a little tired of being on the road so long without a break, and I miss spending more than two nights in the same bed. I'll also be very glad to have the room to myself again. I'm good about sharing, but soon I start to resent trying to sleep with very bad snorers, watching a lot of football and basketball, and, above all, sharing my computer. Checking email is fine, but when someone starts using it to search on Craig's List, that's a little much. How do I bring it up without sounding irrational? Any suggestions?

Of course, the most annoying thing of all is that my new camera has decided not to record any pictures. I turn it on, I take some pictures, and then the next time I turn the camera on, it has mysteriously erased all the pictures. Annoying to say the least, so I have nothing to share of the adventures today. Anyone want to buy me a camera?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Only as good as...

... your next project.

And to that end, my next project will be the musical "Spitfire Grill" at Cedar Crest College, the same place I did "Big Love" for those of you keeping score at home. It was produced off-Broadway in 2001, based on a film of the same name, and you can read all about it on wikipedia.com. The director sent me the CD while we were staying in Nashville this weekend, and I waited a entire 24 hours before breaking it out and devouring it. The music is fantastic. The composers blend broadway ballads with old-time folk sounds, making it a very unique score. The notes for my character go pretty high (!) but I'm confident that I'll get to them. I'll have to rehearse and really use the time well, but I'll get there. I've listened to it about four times in the last two days, and I'm already starting to learn all the words. I won't get to work on the show for another month yet, but I'm really excited for it. Tim challenged me so much when we were working on Big Love, I'm really excited to see what he can come up with for Spitfire Grill.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Night on the town

Last night, we went into Nashville for a night on the town. We started the adventure at Mulligan's Pub, where we had drinks and food, and played a very cutthroat game of Assassin. Now, we had two games going at the same time, and the four-player game was so well-balanced (for the most part), that it took almost three hours to finish! The other group of three managed to finish three or four different games in the same time that it took us to finish our first. So then we left one of our company to listen to the Irish band and flirt with the women there. We then went up and down Broadway, popping in and out of music cafes to hear various country and bluegrass bands. We settled in a cafe where a band was playing that combined bluegrass with Flock of Seagulls, and they were good. We ate and drank and stayed out until around 2am, at which point I came home, washed the smoke out of my hair, and then slept until 10am this morning. We don't often get the chance to sleep in like that, so we always take advantage of it when we can. I also popped into the Wildhorse Saloon and other places that I visited in Nashville a year ago with the Cinderella company, and it was pretty amazing to be back in the town. I honestly never thought I'd be back.

After a big breakfast at the Waffle House and a morning game of Settlers of Catan, we went out to the mall near the Grand Ole Opry this afternoon. I searched hard for a cowboy hat that would fit me, but I didn't have any luck. Mostly, the afternoon was spent finding cool things to do in the mall (like an Aquarium restaurant, a stingray tank, black light mini golf, etc), but then looking closer at them and decided that the memories they would create weren't quite worth the slightly inflated price that they cost. So now I'm at the hotel again, playing some online games, reading my newest book, and trying not to think about working in Hollywood...

Enchanting

A few days ago, I spoke to my friend Colleen back in Philadelphia. She was on my Cinderella tour with me last year, and now she's touring with Enchantment Theatre's production of "The Velveteen Rabbit," which is now touing the country as well. She told me that based on the conversations we had last year, their company is keeping a blog of their adventures on the road. So we traded information, and their blog, Fairies On a Tour, is now linked over on the right side of mine. Hopefully, they'll put my link up as well. We had talked about it last year, and I had kept Enchanting Journeys as an unofficial "secret" from them. I actually don't tell co-workers about this blog, but I tell them about it after I'm done working with them. The rehearsal process, while very collaborative, is ultimately a very personal thing for me; for that reason I don't like sharing my private and personal thoughts with people I'm working with. But after the fact, they can go back and look the entries up if they care to.

But it was awesome to learn that the Enchantment kids are keeping a blog! They can all post on it, and some of their entries reveal very different types of adventures. There is a book in here somewhere, I know. And if you visit their blog, click on one of the advertisements. That way, they'll get some money. And all actors love money...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Meet me in St. Louis.... Louis...

A lot has happened the last week, so I'm going to try to write about the things that have happened in the order in which they happened. After our show in Nebraska, we faced a ten hour drive so we could get to St. Louis in time for our show the next morning. We were driving until after midnight, and then we got the chance to grab about five or six hours of sleep before we had to get up and drive over to our high school performance. It was a very hard load-in. We had to use an elevator to go up one floor to the stage, and then when we took a look at the lighting options, we realized pretty quickly that the student running the board wasn't going to be able to do what we needed. So as we did the show, the light changes were a little shaky and abrupt, and we've learned an important lesson about how to work with non-professional groups. The frustrating part was that by the time we realized there would be a problem, it was too late to set our own lights up and fix the problem. That was a good thing to learn. I was also a little frustrated because members of the company were questioning my technical decisions about the space after I had made them. I like the idea of discussion and free conversation, but in this case it led to problems down the road. Everyone is always talking about how "they have no experience doing this tech..." or "we're only actors...." or "why should we be doing this...," and yet they don't follow my directions when I have had the experience. Actors...
After the show, we headed off to Jackson, TN, getting lost on our way out of the city, crossing into Illinois, back into Missouri, and then on the right road to Tennessee, passing by the St. Louis arch twice. (I've included a picture.) It was pretty cold when we got to Jackson, and then I won a game of Settlers of Catan that we played passing the time for the night. After the show in Jackson, we'll get to drive to Nashville, TN for the weekend. I'm looking forward to heading back to Nashville, but I think it's going to be strange to be in the city with a different group of people.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Back in the swing of things

Today was our first show after a week off, and it went very smoothly. We were in a beauitful space, with a fantastic dome that had amazing acoustics. We could hear whispers halfway across the room. We had a large crowd of high schoolers who really enjoyed the show, and then we had a nice little trip across the time zone to North Platte, Nebraska. We have a show here tomorrow morning for 40 (!) students, and then a ten hour drive so we can get to St. Louis sometime around 1am so we can do another show the next morning. And if the people in our company prostest over (read: bitch about) six hour drives, I'm really not looking forward to their opinion of a ten hour. For me, it's just a par for the course. There's an element of "ours is not to reason why" about the whole thing, and putting negative energy into the already crowded van is certainly not the way to make the travel a happy one.

Old friends

After a lazy day in Denver, mostly spent napping and catching up on email, I went out for a drink with an old friend from Philly who is now studying out here in Denver at the National Theatre Conservatory. I had done a few shows with Kate when we were both based in Philly, and she actually played my wife three times. She and her boyfriend met me at a bar called "The Cheeky Monk," and we spent a nice hour and half both telling stories of old times as well as catching up what we were doing now. She sounded like she was having fun with her different classes and class projects, and I wish that I could see some of the stuff she was talking about. It was great to see her again after about two years, and nice to see that she was doing well. We have a show in the morning, then lunch, a drive, and we're right back into the swing of things. There is the chance I might be able to see a college friend for breakfast, but we'll have to see how that pans out at is goes. I figure, if we're touring the country, I might as well get to see everyone I know!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Another day in Denver

This morning I went out to Highland Square in Denver and had an amazing lunch at a restaurant called Fuego. Between the burrito and the Mexican hot chocolate, the meal was delicious. Then I had some time to browse a bookshop in the area (more Christmas shopping was done), and then I went back to the downtown area to buy a cheap little digital camera. The quality and size of the pictures isn't too good, but it is better than nothing. It's the equivalent of a digital snapshot, but it's the kind of thing that might be able to add a little color to this blog now and then. I've also posted a picture of the Denver capitol building, just to demonstrate the quality of this camera. Tomorrow I have to make some trips to the airport to pick up various members of our company, and then we'll do a line-through and be back on our touring schedule. But this time it's part two...




Saturday, November 24, 2007

Things to do in Denver...

We arrived in town late last night, and today I spent the day wandering around the downtown Denver area. There is a really great outdoor mall and market all up and down 16th Street in Denver, and I was actually smart enough to do a little Christmas shopping while I was down there. Granted, I spotted a few things that I wanted to get for myself as well, but that's what the season is all about, eh? The Ramada where we are staying provides a complimentary shuttle service back and forth from the hotel to the downtown district, and our van driver this morning was very helpful in pointing out places of interest. We're going to spend Monday touring the US Mint and the Coors Brewery, since those tours are free on Mondays. And Brandon made sure to check out places to watch all the football games tomorrow. We're also having the rest of our cast re-join us one by one as we come back from our Thanksgiving break. No more private little trip for us.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Trucker Thanksgiving

After a long drive today, we arrived in Rock Springs, WY and went to find some Thanksgiving dinner. Our first stop was a redneck bar, but their kitchen was closed so there was no food to be found there. So then we went to a truck stop and ordered their Thanksgiving special, which was all the trappings of a traditional meal. The salad bar was a little sub-par, and the turkey was the kind of product that the Spam company would market as a cheap substitute for actual turkey product. That being said, the dinner made me both happy and sad at the same time. Happy for the meal, but sad all the same. I've spent the evening recovering from that meal, and it's turned into a very chill night. We drive to Denver tomorrow, and then we're there until our show on Tuesday morning. I'm excited to stop traveling, and I'm going to try to hook up with a couple friends I have out there.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Boise'd

We spent the day in Boise, ID today, looking around the downtown area for a few hours. We learned a little about the large Basque population in Boise, and saw the historic downtown area where all those buildings stand. I also went to a used bookstore and a great used CD/DVD store where I bought a movie. I had a good cup of coffee and a great sandwich, but one of the standouts was the Idado Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial near the river.


This is a photo of the Anne Frank statue at the memorial, and there are also stone monuments carved with excerpts from her diary, as well as inspirational quotes about freedom and injustice from people like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Dr. Seuss. It was a very simple memorial, but a very touching one as well. It looks like a quiet night in for me, although I might crack into some recently arrived baked goods....

On the road.... again?

I got a phone call this morning from another company I've worked with in the past, and they were interested in having me join their ongoing national tour, replacing an actor who is not working out with the rest of the company. It would fit into my schedule very nicely; I come home, have a day off or so, and then start rehearsing right away before I hit the road. The money with this company is fantastic, but I'm not sure if I want to stay on the road as a touring actor. It would give me the chance to work with friends again, but I'm not sure if that's what I want to be doing....

These are the hard choices in the life of an actor. It's always hard to turn down the offer of work, but sometimes the work you're offered isn't always the best thing for you to do. I wish some days that I had a nice steady job, fixed hours, a scale for raises, benefits, and the knowledge that I would have the same job in a year. As much fun as this "professional vagabond" life is, there are days I wish it could be something else. There is no other job I'd rather do, though, and that is what is going to keep me slugging away. But when I find that other job....

Musketeering

Late last night and early this morning, almost all of our company left and it's now just me, Brandon, and Dennis for the next week. We drove from Seattle to Boise, ID today, and it was a beautiful drive. We went through three distinct mountain ranges, and when we stopped for gas during hour number two, it felt as if we were at the top of the world. I've put a picture in this post of the view from our mountain, looking over at the next mountaintop along the way.


We've got many days off now, and we'll spend Thanksgiving on the road in Rock Springs, WY. We've been talking about a truckstop dinner, or perhaps a Chinese buffet a la the family in A Christmas Story. But for the moment, we're chillin in a Super 8 outside of town. No big plans at the moment, just a few well-deserved days off.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Full day in Seattle

After spending the night on the town last night, we went into Seattle early this morning. We really did spend the whole day there, ranging from cafes on the waterfront, a placed called Ye Old Curiosity Shop, and the Seattle monorail. But the clear highlite of the day was the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum. The scifi part had a lot of great movie and TV props, including Star Trek uniforms and Captain Kirk's command chair. The coolest Star Trek thing, however, was a 4 four square model of the soundstage from 1966 where Star Trek was filmed. Made by the production designer Matt Jefferies, the model showed the layout of the filming stages and the way the Enterprise sets were laid out. It also showed that the sections of the bridge could be removed to allow better access for the camera crew. It was really neat to see.

In the music side of the building, there was so much information about Seattle and rock and roll it was crazy. Lots of musicians got their start up here, including Quincy Jones and Ray Charles. They also had about six different recordings of "Louie Louie," and an entire exhibit about the Battle of the Bands between two different versions of the song, one by the Kingsmen and one by Paul Revere and the Raiders. The Kingsmen ultimately won the battle, but apparently for a while the competition was fierce. Then the upstairs section had a room where you could play instruments, mix demos, sing along, etc. I didn't get a whole lot of time to look in that room, but Molly, Tim, and I did get the chance to do their "On Stage" program, in which we pretend to be a rock band and sing a song. We chose Twist and Shout by the Beatles, and then we rocked it out. We had a great time, and we bought the poster they were selling of our appearance. It was a lot of fun.

Then we went for a seafood dinner on the waterfront, and then played a few arcade games before heading back to the hotel. These last two days have been the best days on tour yet. Yes, I spent a lot of money over these last two days, but I finally feel as if I've been seeing some of the country! We're not racing through or running pass cool sights, but now we've actually had the chance to explore a bit. Made me feel ready to get back on the road and do our show tomorrow morning.

Friday, November 16, 2007

So I've been a little delinquent

recently while updating this blog, but it's only because I've been having so much fun and been so busy. We've spent the last few days traveling the entire length of California, from San Diego all the way to Oregon. We haven't had internet in a few hotels, so my updating has suffered because of it. But I will do my best to write some entries this weekend, including getting towed in San Diego, seeing my college friend the next day, and driving through some beautiful county over the last two days. Tonight, we're staying in the same town as the cast of National Theatre's Don Quixote, and we are planning to go meet up with them later. We also have a little park and a lake outside of our hotel, so it promises to be a nice morning from my little balcony. And the weather is getting colder, which I love.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Non-Equity Deputy

So I found a website online called Non-Equity Deputy, a link for which is now posted to the right of my blog. It's a website that allows non-union actors to post facts and information about companies they have worked for. It allows actors to post about bad experiences as well as good ones, and it's a great page. I highly recommend it to all us non-union actors.

Also, as an entirely shameless plug for a friend, I've also attached a new blog, written by NYC based actor Susan Atwood, blogging as a part of Backstage.com. They have several actors who write about the career, but since I know Susan, she's the one that gets the free press. Maybe she'll link me....

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Thing

[Sunday, November 11, 2007. 12:30pm]

I’m writing this as I sit in the second bench in our van, driving on I-10 toward Mesa, Arizona. We have the day off tomorrow, and then we have a show in Phoenix on Tuesday before we saddle up again and head off to California. For the past 600 miles, we’ve been driving through some amazing country. Mountains and rocks rise out of nowhere and then disappear, and at other times you can look to the horizon and see nothing to disturb the plains. It truly is a pretty wild west out here, but the scenery is incredible. This morning, we stopped at a rest stop in Arizona, which advertised itself as the home of The Thing (the mystery of the desert.) We paid our dollar to get into the museum, and it proved to be a private collection of various historical oddities. There were some amazing old cars to start off, including a 1939 Rolls Royce that is rumored to have been used by Adolf Hitler. We then moved into the wine press, telegraph machine, scales, dating from the 18th century, Chinese artifacts from even earlier, and what the signs claimed is the only example of a “Matchlock,” a type of rifle that seemed to be mounted for use on a fort. Then there was The Thing itself, what appeared to be a mummified Native American, placed inside a wooden coffin with a child. The trading post also had souvenirs and such, but we passed on them and got back into the van to continue our travels.

As we pulled out of the lot, we were discussing whether or not everything we had seen was real. It was a strange collection to be located in desolate Arizona and not in a museum somewhere, but we started talking about “collectors” who buy and find pieces like that and put them on display. Ultimately, I think we decided that all of the artifacts we saw were real and authentic, but the truth on them could have been stretched a little. I don’t doubt that we saw a real fringe-topped carriage from the 1860s, but I question whether or not it was the one used in Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration parade as the sign claimed.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The end of a busy week


After a so-so show in Houston this morning, we drove a few hours to get to San Antonio TX for a little break in the evening. Just outside the city, we stopped at a truck stop called Buc-ee's, for which we had seen the signs for the hundred miles leading up to it. It was a fantastic stop, and the company picked up coffee, candy, t-shirts, jerky, free steak, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, and postcards. From there we headed to San Antonio, although we were just too late to actually get into the Alamo, we did get to see it, touch it, and a picture of it is posted here.


I did not take this picture, but it still looks like that. The rest of the trip was a little stressful, as most of us had something to drink at dinner, and so the trek through the wildnerness of Texas was peppered with drunken actors, pee breaks, and long patches of stress where there was nothing to be seen. Tempers were running high as we got into our hotel, and now I'm playing online as I wait for my laundry to finish. (I had no more socks.) I'm suddenly getting sleepy, but I wanted to get it out of the way tonight instead of dealing with it in the morning.

We have another eight hour drive tomorrow, so I'll also probably spend some of the laundry wait composing a playlist for the few hours I'll do. It's important to have goals and such.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Frustrations about civilty

It was a very long day today. We had a show this morning at 10:15, which went very well. We only had a crowd of 40 or so, but they had read the show, so they were a very good crowd. The problems started after the show, because we had blown a tire on our trip to the school this morning. This makes the second flat tire, coming after the one we had on Day #1 in Charlottle. So we had to spend almost two hours at a local Walmart while they changed our tires and gave us a new spare. One of the girls in our company had left her bank card in the previous town, so we needed to then find a Bank of America in Oklahoma City. This shouldn't have been too hard, but the GPS device we had led us astray, until it finally took the fourth (fourth!) try to find an actual branch of the bank. That took us until about 4:30, and then it was a three and a half hour drive to Dallas, Texas, where we have a show in the morning.

This was a very long day, and tensions were starting to run high. I was seated very firmly in the second bench in the van, headphones in my ears, ipod playing away, determined to either sleep, ignore, or detach myself from everything that was happening around me. As the stage manager, I have a lot of responsibility from 7am until 1pm, and then after that I want to just sit there and disengage. Some of our company are very "touchy," and it's making me cranky. We had a big discussion about saying "please" and "thank you" before we left, but I'll confess that I can't think of any stage managers who routinely throw those words into things like "Quiet in the house" or "10 minutes!" I've done this kind of thing before, I've stage managed before, and I know the tone of professionalism. So it irritates me when people want to treat this as anything other than what it is - a job. And a job that I know how to do well.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Can't Go Back to Arkansas...

We had a great show in the morning, performing in a beautiful Masonic temple. We had a good show and a hesitant talkback, and then we had lunch in the historic downtown area in Fort Smith, AR. We had fantastic burgers at a place called The Hamburger Barn, and then Tim and I bought buffalo nickels at a rare coin shop on the main street. We got a great deal on them, too, as Tim had been in the shop for about ten minutes before I arrived, and then we talked a lot about the different kinds of paper money he had. Add that to a free bag of popcorn that I got at a local shop, and we were having a pretty good day.

I was asleep almost as soon as I got into the van, and we drove right across the state line into Oklahoma. As soon as we got to our first rest stop, I looked out at the horizon to see nothing rising from the plains. As we're moving farther west, the areas are starting to look less and less like rural Pennsylvania and more and more like Arizona. I travelled the east coast last year, and I am really looking forward to seeing the west and the west coast this year. And yes, yes, I will try to post some pictures up here. Anyone want to buy me a camera?

And in case anyone is wondering, in Oklahoma, the wind does in fact come sweeping down the plains.

Monday, November 5, 2007

I'd rather be lucky than good

We got to the theatre this morning, and I was literally holding my breath. We walked around the building for a minute, before the loading door opened and Frank (the TD) came outside. We set off and running, not missing a minute of load-in time. So it all worked out, despite my best efforts. We had a little trouble with our sound equipment today, and our tech guys figured out that we have some bad cables in the board. But we did very well, forced to perform the show without any sound cues. Then we had a short drive, and then Tim, Brandon and I hit some golf balls at a driving range that is next to our hotel. We might play a game tonight or watch a movie, we still haven't figured out the social plans. But whatever we do, I know I still have a Sherlock Holmes computer game...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A little Saturday night fun

Last night, we were unlucky to discover we are currently in a dry county that sells no alcohol. But we were lucky to find a bowling alley a block down from our hotel. We bowled three games, and then since we gained an hour of sleep last night due to daylight savings, we stayed up for another two hours playing Settlers of Catan. The game is a lot of fun, but when it's played by a bunch of football-loving, testosterone-driven men, it's just asking for trouble to play this game at 2am. Now we have the day off in Conway, AR before we perform tomorrow at the local university, and I'm spending the day trying not worry about my mix-up. Actually, I've arranged my luggage, made some phone calls, gone through some laundry, shopped at Target, and now I'm surfing on Amazon. We'll start working hard with the rest of my team tomorrow, so I like having some time to myself.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Dropping a ball

I have yet to work my mind around the fact that these theatres and schools at which we perform are only open during the weekdays. This is not really a problem, except for the fact that I have not been able to get in touch with anyone at our venue for Monday. I should have gotten in touch with them at the beginning of the week, so I've completely screwed up and dropped the ball on this one. But the boss said that another show performed here a few days ago, so we may have lucked out on this one. And I make it a policy never to make the same mistakes twice, so I'm sure this won't happen again.

But until then, I'm a little nervous. It's not about the technical aspect of the show - I know that will go well. I just hope there is someone there to open the doors for us at 8am on Monday. I've left messages on every number I can find, and I even emailed the tech directors based on the online technical packet for the theatre. I think we'll be okay, but I know that I am very easy and flexible when it comes to hitches in plans. And while I think that makes me a great manager because I'm not easily fazed by changes of plans, it also makes me an inconsistent manager because I don't relay that information to the people on my crew. I like flying by the seat of my pants, because it always works out for me. Maybe that's something to adjust about my managing style...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Just like a real show

Our theatre this morning was fantastic. The space and building weren't as extravagant as the Tampa Theatre, but this space was all about function and flexibility. We had a great lighting rig, a great sound system, tons of space backstage, and curtains that we could arrange around our set. We worked pretty well with the professional crew provided, and we all had a great morning where we felt like we were doing a "real show." I am all about the educational value of theatre, and I love performing these kinds of show for school children. But working in a space like this theatre today really makes me feel like a real actor. We also got to spend a second night in the same hotel, which is making us feel like we've almost settled for a bit. We found a free lunch at the grand opening of a cellphone company, and then we've had the day off. And to top it all off, we got paid today! Could the day get any better?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Rabbit rabbit

So yea, while in New Orleans we stayed at the Hotel Monteleone last night (www.hotelmonteleone.com), which was only a few drunken steps away from Bourbon Street and all the parties that came with Halloween. We put on passable costumes, dressed for the night, and then went out to seek our fortune. Some folk got drunk pretty quickly, and then we spent the night going from club to club, dancing, listening to music, drinking some more, and wandering up and down the street admiring the costumes. The best were a couple dressed as contestants from Double Dare, someone dressed as Sauron, and at least half a dozen Indiana Joneses.

We also heard some great cover bands, two of our boys danced in a cage together, two of our girls danced in the same cage together, one of our boys made very good friends with several girls in a bar called "Boondock Saint," we went to a place called The Gumbo Shop (Yum!), I did some Christmas shopping, and then my roomie and I sat up into the night drinking cheap whiskey and wearing the deluxe bathrobes from our five star hotel. All in all, it was a wonderful night. Some pictures might be coming, but I had no camera with me, so I have to rely on the pictures and the kindness of others.

Then, after this wonderful night last night, we got into our van at 6:30 am for an hour drive across the lake to perform two, count them TWO, shows in Covington, LA. I think we were all a little scared about having a double day so soon after a late night, but we pulled through very well. Then we drove another four hours to reach Alexandria, LA, where we are spending two nights in a row. How luxurious... From here, we mosey on up to Conway, Arkansas, and then we head out into Texas. I'm really glad we have a weekend coming up, I'll tell you that much.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Where on earth is Shubuta?

We did a pretty good show today in Columbus, MS. Nothing amazing, nothing terrible. For every show on the road that captures lightning in a bottle, we have to be prepared for a dozen serviceable shows. But the highlight of the trip today was a stop at McCoy's gas in Shubuta, MS, where we met a high school teacher who had just taught R&J to her students. While standing barefoot with her daughter with her, she told us that her students really didn't understand the language of the play. For instance, she said they couldn't understand Mercutio when he says "you shall find me a grave man." She was excited to hear that we were performing the show as we toured, and she was glad that we were doing it.

Now we're chilling in our Ramada Inn in Mobile, AL, and we have a show here tomorrow morning. Then we're driving down to the French Quarter in New Orleans to celebrate Halloween. I don't have a costume planned out, but I've got a great t-shirt all ready to go, and I'm planning to buy a kick-ass mask in town that I can possibly use in the party scene in the show. But we've got nothing much to do tonight, since most of the local downtown is closed except for the bars, but we might watch a movie.

I'm sure I'll have many more stories from the Big Easy. I need to get a camera of my own...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Long trip to southern Alabama

It was really hard to tear ourselves away from the beach house in Florida this morning, especially after a wonderful breakfast with elements cooked by yours truly. I then saddled into the driver's seat, and I took the van and trailer over 200 miles all the way up through the Florida panhandle, and all the way into southern Alabama before we stopped for dinner, and I had had enough driving. So Frank came in and closed out the day, and now we're sitting in our hotel room in the Days Inn playing Settlers of Catan. But I'll be honest, my mind is only half in the game. I'm writing this entry as other people take their turns and watch the football game (despite my best efforts to both turn the TV off as well as mute it.) I don't understand how my fellow folk can play a game while being constantly distracted by the idiot box. Now, I love the idiot box, don't get me wrong. But if we're playing a game, we should be playing the game. I mean, we're even distracted by commercials.

This was a very mundane day. We cleaned up the house, and then drove across a lot of highway, before coming to rest at a basic pit-stop on our road to our next theatre on Tuesday. Not always a glamourous life, but it's the inbetweens between the fun.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Shopping cart disaster

A few entries ago, I spoke about our escapades with a shopping cart. Now I've attached some pictures, including a triumphant pose as the adventurers sally forth, as well as a picture of the gory aftermath. Enjoy!



Friday, October 26, 2007

Ain't So Bad After All


Yes, your comments on the previous post did make me realize I have it pretty sweet. We had a good show this morning in the Tampa Theatre, an absolutely beautiful house. A picture of the theatre space is to the right, with both the proscenium art lit up and the ceiling lit to create the night sky. And now we have the weekend off before we go back to performing on Tuesday. We're staying at a cast member's beachhouse in St. Petersburg, FL for the next few days, before we drive out to Alabama on Sunday afternoon. We're looking to go minigolfing tomorrow, followed by a seafood dinner tomorrow night. And as regards the last post, I'm going to come through this tour with flying colors and then when I get home to Philly, I'll start working on that TV and film career.
After take-out dinner tonight, we sat down at watched Baz Lurman's Romeo + Juliet, which I had never seen before. It was amazing to see such a wild and energetic film version of the play we're working on, and their Mercutio was incredible. I now have two other Mercutios in my mind, and it's really exciting to see the choices that those different actors made. I'm not stealing ideas from either of them, but I'm letting their work shade some moments that I've been having trouble with. Frank (Romeo) and I were excited to watch the film, and we kept looking at each other, pointing at the screen, and saying "I miss that line," "I wish we were doing that," or "that makes so much more sense!" It was both frustrating and wonderful to watch the movie, but I'm glad we made it a cast thing.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Not always the best job in the world

Somewhat traditionally, theatre actors are very respected but poor. On the flip side, movie actors are less respected, but wealthy. And traditions remain and persist for a very good reason - they are true. Speaking as someone who has worked in theatre for the last eight years now as a professional actor, it's completely true. I've been following movie and TV work very closely lately, and I'm tired of being a poorly paid non-union touring actor. I do love the work, and I love the travel, but I could just as easily be a highly paid movie star who would travel to even more exciting places than Mooresville, NC. I have a friend who just auditioned for the new "Justice League" film, another who was on a CW television show, and many who are in Philly working as extras on the movies that are shot there. And as much as I like playing Mercutio, there has to be more to this life than just children's tours and summer stock....

The Road to J-Ville

Yesterday after a wonderful show in Mooresville NC, at which we used a great crew comprising of the local drama club. They had fun working with us, and we got a lot of our work done very quickly. Then we went on a really long drive down to Jacksonville, FL, getting in just before 10pm. Some of the girls then found information about a local bar called Monkey's Uncle Tavern that did kareoke, so we walked around for a bit before finding the bar closed, under construction, and a dude inside working on the drywall. So we went to walk back to the Ramada Inn, and on our way back, we stumbled across a Target shopping cart. This led to races, chicken fights, and general hilarity as we piled three grown men onto a shopping cart. And we didn't even have any alcohol.

Then in the morning, the hotel provided an amazing breakfast buffet that included waffles and scrambled eggs, and we hit the road nice and early for Tampa. Now we're chillin out at the hotel and swimming in the pool, before heading off tonight to see what the nightlife is like. Or maybe not... we're still discussing, so we'll have to wait and see what happens. We have an early call tomorrow morning, and we can spend the afternoon in the city as well, so I'm not sure what I'll do yet. Such hard decisions to make under the warm Florida sun.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Stealing something wireless

Since the Ramada Inn is having problems with their wireless internet, I'm across the parking lot in the breakfast nook at a Holiday Inn Express, piggybacking off their wireless signal. Our show went well today for a rowdy crowd in Atlanta, and I had lunch at a fantastic thai and sushi bar across the street from the theatre. Now we're north of Charlotte, with a show tomorrow morning in Mooresville, NC. A friend of mine came down to the hotel to visit me tonight, and I took her to dinner and then we caught up. She's in graduate school in Greensboro, and I haven't seen her in almost a year, so it was a nice chance to see an old friend. But I'm cutting this short, because I want to run back home and try to catch The Colbert Report tonight....

Monday, October 22, 2007

Another openin', another touring show

We opened our show this morning at 10:15, to a very successful audience. The kids really enjoyed the performance, they asked some good questions, and they were with us all the way. Our load-in went very well, and we didn't really have any problems when it came to set up. There are a lot of things that we have now learned how to do better when it comes to future load-ins, and also when it comes to packing up the trailer for the load-outs.

But then, heading back to Jackalope Jack's for lunch, we blew out one of the tires on the trailer. And then we found that there was a stripped lug nut on the trailer, so we had to call AAA to come and save us. We got on the road about an hour and half later than we wanted to, and then we made pretty good time getting ourselves into Atlanta, where we now reside. We're scrounging for dinner (no one wanted to go to The Varsity with me...) and then it's time for Monday night football. We do another show tomorrow morning, and then we drive back to North Carolina, and then down to Florida. We're going to be very well traveled, but only along I-85.

There was also a lot of fun, as an old college friend of mine met us this morning and came to see our show. Then we went to lunch (and had our tire adventure), and some of our company members decided to have some drinks at lunch. Unfortunately, this drinking continued into the van trip, and she was climbing all over other cast members and the bench seats. We kept looking at each other thinking "is this really happening??" And it's only the first day...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

First weekend away

So we’ve hit the road. We left the HoJo at 7am yesterday, driving down to see a buddy of mine in a production of “Romeo and Juliet” at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Virginia. The performance was incredible, and everyone from our cast was very impressed to see the show. They were performing a fuller script, so they had a lot of moments that we long to play, and the interpretation of the show was much different than ours. I was so proud to see the work my buddy Chris was doing. We’ve both wanted to work with this company for a while, so I’m really happy that he is having a good time in Virginia. We’re going to audition for their touring season together next year, and it would be great to do another tour with him.

And then this morning, we played disc golf in a local park near Chris’s house, and then we all piled back into the van to finish the trip to Charlotte for our first performance tomorrow. Once in Charlotte, we made our way through our weekly line-through and then went out for dinner at Jackalope Jack’s. It’s a sports bar with a shuffleboard table, and we actually stopped there for a few drinks when we were touring with Cinderella a year ago. It was pretty wild to be walking through a town that I actually kinda knew, but to know that it was because I had toured here a year ago. Jack’s had one of the best burgers I’ve ever had, and everyone else had a great time there as well. And now we’ve gathered in my hotel room to watch Game 7 of the ALCS, rooting for the Indians. Go Cleaveland!

Our first show is tomorrow morning, and I’m a little nervous about setting it all up in time. It’s been a little hard to get in touch with the technical director at this theatre, and I wanted to just confirm where we were headed tomorrow morning. We know where the college is, we just need to find the theatre. The game is getting tense. The show is tomorrow. Good life…

Friday, October 19, 2007

On the Road again...

At the moment, I've got friday night stand up playing on Comedy Central, stage managing supplies are strewn across one bed, and the suitcase is open on the other bed, mid-packing with t-shirts and pairs of socks hanging over the edges. I've finished just about everything I need to before we start driving tomorrow, and now I'm just trying to make everything organized. Our technical director keeps dropping by my hotel room with new deliveries... keys, glow tape, gaff tape, a white slip for Juliet, etc. As I look to pack up everything, it's sinking in that I'm actually hitting the road again. All these little things add up to make me a little nervous, but also very excited. I know that the comment on the previous post instructed me to have less fun..... but I'm not sure that's possible.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

An odd change of pace....

So today was our first day of tech, at which we accomplished almost all of our cue-to-cue, the chance that we have to go slowly through the play and work on each light and sound change so we get it down. But halfway through our tech, the word came down from our artistic director that one of our actors was being let go. This actor also happened to be our stage manager. Within fifteen minutes, the artistic director approached me to take over his cue book and become the company's stage manager. Since it came with both responsibility and a pay raise, I naturally said yes. Also, this show is going well, so I want to ensure that it has a great tech run. Besides, the idea of working with venues and tech directors is very appealing to me, and a position like this plays into my strengths. It would be hard for me to remain quiet and work on the show on the sides, so I'm glad of the chance to get a little more hands-on in the technical aspect.

That being said, having an actor fired with only two days left in the rehearsals is a little bizarre. I can understand both his motives and the motives of the company, but I think it's a testament to the strength of our company that we all took the news with such stride. There weren't any panics or freakouts, we just took a long break in the middle of the day, and then went forth again. Personally, I just spent the last hour looking over his notebook with cues and prompts, and I know I need my sleep for tomorrow.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Last chance run

This morning, we ran the show for the last time before we move on to the theatre for our days of tech rehearsals. We also had an audience this morning, as the touring cast of Anne Frank was back for a few days. They really enjoyed the show, and it was nice to have an audience who reacted to our jokes and our show. We've been ready for an audience for a few days now, and it was nice to have it. Then we spent the afternoon working on some little moments, and then they found us shoes and tights. Tomorrow is a day off, and then we have three intense days of tech at the theatre two towns over. And then we hit the road to travel on Saturday. Looking forward to getting on the road.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

You take the good, you take the bad

I must express my joy and thanks to all of you readers who read that last post and either posted here, emailed me, called, texted, or whatever, just to say that you were thinking of me and sending me love. Actors and theatre people are often the most effusive, and I thank you all.
But also I find that when I must be on the road a lot, other aspects of my life must take a backseat to the art. Friends and relationships are often put to the test by distance, from the simple fact that I am constantly moving around the country. It doesn't always have bad consequences, but it's really frustrating when you are away on the road, and you miss opportunities at home. It's the price of the road.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

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It always seems to be that I know exactly what to write, and I write with great frequency when things are going really well. There is fun to share and stories to tell. Great photos to post up here are followed by great stories, and everyone likes to read about someone having fun at what they are doing. But on R&J, just as I did on Cinderella before this, when I'm frustrated or tired I tend not to want to sit down at my computer and write about what's going on.

But I am going to try to make an effort to change that with this blog as of now. We're working on the show, running it every day and then working scenes with the rest of the day. Today we took a field trip to see the other touring cast perform at their tech rehearsal before heading out on the road soon. It was to see the stage, so we would know how much space we have and what the stage size is. But we haven't ever received measurements for our set, so spacing rehearsals are beyond useless. We don't know how much room we have, or how much room we want, so there is no way to just look at the stage and figure out how much space we need. I've also been waiting over a week to receive knee pads for the show, and we haven't had any costume/shoe converstations since our fitting on day three. I know there are boxes of shoes around, or so the rumor goes, but that should not be something I am responsible for on my own. I'm not picking through the box; I'm waiting for the appropriate time when the costumer will bring the box out and hand me things.

I've been learning over the years since I worked at Hedgerow Theatre, and I am developing a strong sense of understanding what is not my job. I have no problems being a team player, but I am not going to accept any duties that are not assigned to me. This company is testing my limits of being a self-sufficient professional actor. I understand that certain things are required of a touring troupe, but I should not have to do things that are not part of my job description.

And if I sound frustrated, you're right.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What an actor might do on a day off

Yesterday was our day off from Romeo and Juliet, and most of the cast headed back to their homes in New York City for the day. But there were some of us left up here, and we went over to visit a cast member who lives in the local area. She lives with her parents on a horse farm, and we got to meet all the animals and ride a horse named Beatrice. Then we went to the vegetarian/vegan restaurant run by her family called "Duck's Soup," which was delicious. Then we came back to the hotel, played some card games, talked about Shakespeare, and then I spent most of the evening watching TV and reading "Harry Potter and the Deathly Harrows." I borrowed it from another company member, and I finished it this morning before rehearsal. We're now looking forward to a solid week of working scenes and running the show, before we go into tech rehearsals next week.

This is always one of my least favorite weeks. I really don't like running the show for that solid week beforehand. I like working on scenes, and I like exploring moments, but I really don't enjoy just barging through full runs of the show every day. It's a little frustrating as it goes on and on, but I recognize it as a beneficial thing to the production and to other actors. Just like some actors need quiet before they work on a scene, my energy feeds in different ways off of my co-workers.

Clink!

Yes, I'm a little too lazy to have written about Queen Mab the day after we blocked it. But a description is sure to follow.

On Monday afternoon, we did our "clink," which is basically a stumble-through of the entire show as we have it up to that point. I wasn't quite sure how it was going to go, but I know that all of my bits went exceptionally well. I had a few moments where I was reaching for lines, and a few moments that I knew weren't as specific as they need to be, but they are the kind of things I could feel immediately as they were happening. We were released early, and we'll be getting notes at our next rehearsal on Wednesday. We have a week left or so in which we can refine our show and smooth out all the rough spots, and this is always some of my favorite bits of rehearsal. Working with the other actors is always fun, especially when the actors in question are very talented and can bring lots of things to the rehearsals. We worked on a Romeo/Mercutio greeting the other day, and Frank (Romeo) kept adjusting the energy he entered with, which constantly changed the way that Mercutio greeted him. That kind of work is the most interesting to me.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

What felt like a real day


This picture is from "Big Love," and it mirrors a picture earlier. I had posted our nice and warm wedding photo, now this is the one where we are trying to kill each other. As your eyes work over the picture, I love that two couples are a little goofy, or just misunderstand each other. Only one pair legitimately wants to murder each other. I miss her...
Back to RnJ, we spent the day blocking early bits of the show. We had our costume fittings (I look like a red-garbed version of Robin Hood), and then we worked basically all the way through the big party scene where Romeo meets Juliet. Granted, we did have to skip the big Queen Mab scene, but it is on the schedule for tomorrow. I was a little nervous a few days ago about this speech, but now I'm really looking forward to doing it tomorrow. I have to remember to bring the reckless creativity to rehearsal, just as I did on Big Love. I need to make sure I learn that lesson and remember it for tomorrow.

Best. Job. Ever.

It was technically our third day of rehearsal tonight, and after finishing most of our tablework on the script, it was time for the boys to go off with Jacob and learn our fights. The morning was a basic course in Stage Swordfighting 101, in which we learned the basics about form, sword position, attacks and parries. And then after lunch, we spent a lot of time blocking the moves for the swordfight between Mercutio and Tybalt. That took most of the afternoon, and I was sweating and working, but it was all so much fun it wasn't right. We'll be drilling it every day as we keep rehearsing the play, so when we open the show it will be up to the correct speed. There was a little bit of scenework done after I rejoined the rest of the cast, and then it was time to all head over to another hotel room to watch the Indians play the Yankees. And then as soon as that was done, five of the guys saddled up and went out to see "3:10 to Yuma" at our local movie theatre. Now we're watching the other baseball game. Best. Job. Ever.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

First day on RnJ

Although I had to get up around 6am this morning to make the train up to Milford CT, once I got here the time has totally been worth it. I was very nervous to come up here and start work, knowing that it would include all the stress of both working away from home as well as the stress of touring. But everyone in our company is a lot of fun, and everyone seems like they could be fun once we get on the road. The show is very well cast, and everyone seems to be appropriate for their roles. They bring different energies to different types of roles, and it promises to be fun.

Now, I'm also living in a hotel room with two other guys, and because we have a cot in our room, our floor space is kind of limited. But I just got back from the pool, and now we're in a hotel room watching the Cubs play the Diamondbacks. Not a bad start to this work.

Quote of the Day: "Golden Girls is a classy version of Sex in the City"

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

All packed up, somewhere to go

Well, the suitcase is packed, the computer is charging to go into the backpack, and all the bills have been paid online. I'm taking a train tonight to NYC, and then I'm crashing with a friend so I can catch the 7:30 train up to Milford CT for our first day of rehearsal. So it works out really well that I still have to learn my lines for the show. I'll have a lot of train time to look them over. There really is nothing like procrastination....

Monday, October 1, 2007

Photo Call


So these are the pictures from the show. First up, we see the brides and their grooms. Next, an action shot of the three boys performing our physical segment, with the white scarf as a feminine symbol and the stick representing masculinity. And third, a photo of me in mid-expression talking to Michelle, my bride. More shall follow.

The End of an Era

And so marks the final days of "Big Love," closed out by two fantastic performances on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday night was sold out, and the audience included some friends of mine as well as my parents. Laughs started early and flowed freely, and the night was once again capped off by closing down the local bar at 2am. The performance went really well, and the audience was enthusiastic in their applause for us. Also, based on the conversations at the bar the night before, I grabbed a huge (and excessive) amount of cake to smash over Michelle's head. The crowd loved it, everyone went wild, and we made the decision to go with the smaller handfulls again. A friend from Pella windows made it up to see the show, and he really enjoyed it. Hopefully, he might even post a comment about the show, seeing as how it would be nice to have an outside observer weigh in on what the show was like to see. Then we closed on Sunday afternoon with a smaller yet responsive crowd, for whom we gave a very solid performance. Before the curtain rose, Tim told us to leave everything onstage, so there was nothing left over. And sitting in the restaurant after the show, utterly drained and feeling quite tired, I realized that I had done just that.

It was quite hard to leave the area for the last time, as well. I know I'll keep in touch with the people from this, whether to share music or have them read this very blog. And hopefully I'll see them again, whether I visit the campus or they take a field trip to come see me in Romeo and Juliet. And I may even be back at Cedar Crest for another show later in the year. Whatever happens, it was a great cast to work with, and I had a lot of fun on this production. I'm excited to be moving on to the next thing, yes, but this one was so much fun and so artistically fulfilling that it will be a hard one to beat.

And, I promise more pictures, posted up here before I get too deeply involved in R&J.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Gremlins in the works


When I was in high school, our second night tradition was to stamp out the gremlins that would infest the theatre after that successful opening night. We'd stamp our feet and chant something, so that we could go out on the boards for a second performance that would be as strong as the first. Tonight, my Big Love could have used some gremlin stamping. Nothing really "went wrong," but it wasn't as sharp as it has been in the past. I didn't feel as connected to my big monologue as I have for the last two nights, and the slippery, water-logged stage has started presenting major problems for both traction and balance. All in all it was a good show, but not a great one.

But as a consolation prize, I've attached a James Bond photo. We were doing our runthrough of the rappel, and I happened to be already dressed in my tuxedo. It doesn't get more James Bond than this.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Opening night!

Last night was the opening night of our show, followed by a pizza and soda reception in the dining hall around the corner (college, I know!) and then we headed off to the local bar for some drinking, nachos, and then slightly drunken kareoke. It took me a beer or two to get up on the stage, but I rocked it out with Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." I had the table near the stage clapping along with me, and Tim was doing appropriate gesture work in time with the lyrics. It was pretty special. I realized that it has been a long time since I closed out a bar, drinking and singing until 2am. It was a really great night.

But isn't that just like an actor to go straight to the drinking and the party, skipping straight over the part about the show itself. We had a nice size crowd, not big not small, and it seemed like it took them a little bit of time to warm up into the show. They were laughing at it, and yet at the moments when I expected silence I was rewarded with it. They seemed to go with the ending bit where all the chaos and destruction erupts onstage, laughing it up as Michelle and I shoved cake into each other's face. Then we got to go to that reception and have people compliment the show. Now every actor likes being told how good he was, but for this show it was even better. This physical work is something that I've never done before, and it's great to hear that it connects with people, and that they can really appreciate the art that we are bringing to it. We have three more shows to go and then it's over. I wish we were doing more, but I'm also excited to head off for R&J. But I'll miss this character, this show, these people. I made great friends here, which is one of the reasons to do it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rappeling photos



So, this is one of the promised pictures of us learning to rappel. That's Dave on the ground with me, our firefighter who helped train us. You can see the scaffolding from which we are working, hanging off into the middle of nothing.

The harness has been getting more and more uncomfortable as I added other costume pieces to it. It's really rough to be up on the balcony waiting in my harness, hooked up to my line. But it's still one of the coolest things to do on stage.

Dead, naked, and covered in cake

A few nights ago, Tim gave me the note to grab a big handful of cake to smush all over my bride's head. So when she shoved a good amount into my face, I grabbed a big ole handful for her head. As I pulled the cake and approached her, I heard everyone in the audience draw their breath, and when I smashed it onto her head and then wiped some icing down her cheeks, everyone started laughing. We then had to do our little sex and violence dance with cake all over the place, with Michelle all the while swearing vengeance against me. Overall, it was pretty funny. But after the show, while washing the cake from my face, I realized that it's only going to escalate from here. Hopefully, I'll get some pictures up here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The end of a busy weekend

Over the past weekend, we did our 10 out of 12 hour technical days, which now means we are running the show at full intensity at full speed in full costume. Granted, I have yet to purchase the eye makeup that I need to wear in such a large space, but I've got everything else that I need. I've actually been having some bad luck in the last few days, in the sense that I've actually broken the same prop two days in a row, in two different ways. The closer and closer we get to opening the show, the more and more excited about it I become. I did my cake-covered pre-death striptease last night for the first time, after which I die beside the pool and get absolutely soaked from the roman fountain. It's quite a dramatic spectacle of a death scene, and I will certainly confess to loving it. In my mind, one of the reasons to be an actor is so that I can do things that I wouldn't get the chance to do in real life, and this show as given me a lot of them. It's not high-profile or high-paying, but it's a lot of fun.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Our amps go to 11

Tim challenged us tonight to play the entire show at level "11," raising the stakes on everything we have done up until this point. But instead of being a little too extreme, the show finally started to take shape. I was slightly proud to have come up with the two moments of the show that were deemed "too far." But the challenge to hit 11 gave us the freedom to take a lot of risks, which livened up the show and made it come alive. It was compared to the moment where Frankenstein's monster moves and starts to come to life. Everything we worked so hard on for the last few weeks finally took on a life of its own. We came up with some great stuff, some of it is very effective, and we get to play with it more tomorrow. Also, tomorrow I promise another post with pictures from rapelling!

Monday, September 17, 2007

First shooting morning for Paper Cuts

You may ask why I was out of the house before sunrise this morning, and it was so I could catch my train to Philly for the first shooting day for the new season of Paper Cuts. In fact, it was so early in the morning that I actually watched the sunrise from the train as we headed into the city. We shot for about an hour and half, accomplishing everything we wanted. I pitched some new jokes into the show, as well as contributed to the blooper reel. My costar Tim was sitting in the front row, and there were numerous times when just looking down in his direction would make me laugh. An entire scene with him was an exercise in maintaining focus.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Where no man has gone before

I recently purchased the complete original Star Trek series on DVD, and as I am currently on the third disc (of twenty one!) of episodes, I am considering it one of the best purchases I ever made. These are ultimate relics of my childhood, and there a part of that 8 year old boy comes out every time I put one of them on. But this connects to an acting blog not with an analysis of the acting in the original Trek, but rather a mention of the new JJ Abrams Star Trek movie about to go into production. This is now the second big movie that I have desperately wanted to be a part of, the first being last summer's Superman Returns. So as an unrepresented non-union actor who is not living in LA, I want desperately to be considered for that film. As much as any Trek fan would love to play Jim Kirk, I would just love the opportunity to wear those outfits and walk around the various sets from a scifi world that no longer exists. So if anyone sees any information about it, please post it here and let me know. When I come back from Romeo and Juliet, I'm going to make it my business to try to get involved with film and perhaps television. I love doing theatre, but my dreams and aspirations are starting to lie on the silver screen instead.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Doing whatever a spider can

At rehearsal yesterday for Big Love, the guys took an hour or so out of running the scenes to work with our "stunt coordinators" on our rappelling lesson for our entrance. We worked with Becky (our costume designer), Daryll (her husband), and Dave (a firefighter) to learn how to keep ourselves safe. We got some gear, and then Dave had us all hang from the rope only inches off the floor so we could see what it would feel like. Then we climbed the scaffolding and lowered ourselves down, slowly at first from a height of about 15 feet. We went through it a few times, each time getting more and more confident in our ability. Our descents became not only prettier but also faster, and every time my feet hit the floor, I was both excited from the rush and disappointed that it was over.

As the final step, we moved out over an open section of air, since our descent in the show will not have the aid of a wall to jump down. That one was a little harder for me at first, since I wasn't quite prepared to go swinging into the middle of the air like I did. But Dave had prepared us well, so I recovered pretty quickly and made a nice landing. All three of us did very well, including our hesitant actor who is a little afraid of heights. It was hands down one of the most fun days of rehearsal ever; all the girls were very jealous of the fun that we got to have 15 feet above the ground. But this post alone cannot do justice to the moment, so some pictures will follow. The technical director was taking photos as we were working, and I've been promised some of those shots for this blog. So when I get the pictures, you'll get to see them.

Back to old haunts

Tonight I went to see "It Runs in the Family," Hedgerow Theatre's annual production of a Ray Cooney farce. I always enjoy going back there as a successful "graduate," still acting and still making a living at it. Old friends are still there, so we can swap stories and recall old times. And I always meet new friends there as well, many of whom I eventually see in the Philadelphia theatre community at large. And in this case, I know a bunch of the current full-time theatre fellows, and one of my good friends from Tony n Tina is their lead. The show was funny and enjoyable, and it was good to see old friends again.

I talked up both Big Love and Romeo and Juliet, and I'm trying to get the Fellows to come up and see Big Love. They run a show that weekend, but it's possible that they could come see a final preview or a dress rehearsal. Fellows came to see my production of Getting Married when I ran that at Bloomsburg, and I hope they can come see this one as well.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sex and violence, sex and violence

Fantastic stuff! Fantastic. Last night, we ran the second half of our show to great success. I made some fun choices that were very strong and different, a few of which worked and a few of which did not work. Working on this show, I find that I’m being both forced and encouraged to stretch myself creatively. I'm normally a very reserved and classical actor, but being in a show that is so unfamiliar to me, it forces me to come up with new tricks and use my techniques in different ways. For instance, I had a very long pause in one of my monologues last night. In a traditional play, such a long pause would not really work, but it was one of the director's compliments to me last night. He said that if the pause ever got any shorter than it was, he would come after me. He liked just what it was, which meant that my first instinct was dead on. It's nice to know I can do such good work, and exciting to have the chance to do something quite new.
After everyone else was released, Michelle and I continued to work on our dance/murder at the end of the show. Just like the time before, it was great to work one-on-one with her, with Tim advising and guiding our work. We came up with some great moves that combine sex with violence, including two lifts where I get to throw her around. It's fun work, although I realize one bicep is a little sore today. I still have two weeks or so to get into shape.

Blocking the finale

[Monday, Sept 10]

Tonight we blocked the finale of the show, in which our dance troupe joined rehearsals and we worked out how all the brides would kill their husbands. It was a pretty wild night, but the best part by far was that Michelle and I got a chance to work on our own for a bit on our encounter. Since she and I are the "principle" couple, and I am the first husband to die, we had the chance to improvise a bit of an encounter before I actually die. I liked bringing elements of my work with Enchantment to the show, including some very physical movement and a little bit of the dance work we had done with Cinderella. Michelle and I worked really well together, and she wasn't at all shy to voice her own ideas or to tell me that there was something better than the one I had come up with. Those are important qualities to have in a castmate, particularly someone with whom I will be working so closely. We didn't quite get to finish the whole sequence, but we'll keep working at it over the next few days. I'm again, very excited.

Iphegenia 2.0 in New York City

[Sunday night, September 9]

After running the second half of Big Love at rehearsal, we loaded ourselves into two vehicles and flew along Route 78 to get into New York City to see the Signature Theatre Company’s production of Iphegenia 2.0, another play by our own playwright Charles Mee. Another modern re-telling of a classic Greek myth, it also blurred the line between historical piece and modern play, with characters named Agamemnon and Menalaus talking about Jeeps and RPGs. It was a lot of fun to see a professional production of one of Mee's plays, especially since they have the budget and the resources to do the kind of spectacle that his plays demand.

The performers were amazing, using their voices and their bodies very well to tell the story. It was also a lot of fun to see Kate Mulgrew, Star Trek Voyager's Captain Janway, onstage in such a large theatrical piece. She was very effective, capturing attention and focus when needed, and seeming at home in the physical demands of such a role. This play also contained the sequences of music and dance that are in Big Love, as well a sequence of intense destruction and celebration at the very end. All in all, I liked the production. I enjoyed the story elements of Big Love more, but I liked the way the spectacle functioned in Iphegenia. It seemed more organic and less forced.

We also had a great time. In the car with the director and three girls of the cast, we talked and laughed all the way into the city, and then played a fantastic mix CD on the way out. I asked everyone there to think of driving music for me for when I leave on tour, and it was a fun time with some new friends.

Above all, I was struck by the dedication and passion of the performers in this New York production. And I realize that when doing a Charles Mee play, the stakes must always be very high. Everything is a matter of life or death, and a high level of committment must accompany every moment. This play is a challenge, and I love it.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Paper Cuts 2.0

This afternoon was the first meeting of the semester for the online TV series Paper Cuts. We had to go through a bit of housekeeping business, and we had to talk about schedules and commitments and schoolwork and plot twists. We got our schedule for the month of September, and it actually starts pretty soon. It's going to limit my time for Pella windows, and this upcoming week might actually be my last one there. Because I'll be working on Paper Cuts in the morning, then coming home to change and eat, and then I'll head off to Allentown in the evening to rehearse Big Love. It'll be long days but fun days.

I'm very excited to work on the show again. People have sometimes asked me how I choose which plays to do, or which jobs to accept, and I can only say that I choose what I think is going to be one of two things. I want things to either advance my career and skills, or I want to have fun. Recently, I've been very lucky about picking projects that do both for me. All of these projects are teaching me things, and I'm having a ball doing them. It was great to see everyone at the meeting today, and I promise, promise, that I will write about filming here on this blog. I'm really looking forward to it, even though it means that I have many more lines to learn.

Friday, September 7, 2007

First rehearsal in a while

Wednesday night was the first rehearsal for Big Love since last Saturday. And as I treaded the boards, I was very aware that I hadn’t thought about the show since then. The blocking and character work were buried deep in my head, but the lines took a little longer to come back to me. But everyone seemed a little sluggish as well, and it was also our first day as a company to work with our lead actress again. Her understudy had been rehearsing for a week, as our leading lady happened to be on a week long cruise. So part of the night was spent working her into new scenes, as well as working on old scenes now that we had her back. We didn't get as far as Tim hoped to get, but we at least made it to the entrance of the guys, and we got to throw our weight around onstage for a bit.